With the holidays just around the corner, one of the things I look forward to the most during this season is all my family’s traditions. From decorating the tree, to watching all the classic holiday films, and to opening a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve – each tradition sparks memories of years before.
I also have a number of traditions for when I visit Disney Parks. First, I will not leave Downtown Disney without a Holiday Turkey sandwich from Earle of Sandwich and a chocolate shake from Ghirardelli. I have to have my picture taken in front of Cinderella Castle with a brand new set of Ears, and I absolutely must consume a minimum of one dole whip.
There are so many great traditions you can start with your family at Disney Parks. From the magical memories, to the material belongings – try some of these on your next vacation and start some new traditions of your own!
Pin Trading: Pin trading is a great way to interact with Cast Members! Not only will they share their pins with you, but they will share their knowledge as well. Not sure where to stop for lunch? Ask a Cast Member while you scan their lanyard for the perfect Tiana pin. These small keepsakes take up next to no room in your luggage, are relatively inexpensive (as long as you are only buying one of two to get yourself started), and can be displayed numerous ways once you get home.
Autographs: Whether you bring a small notebook from home or purchase one in the parks, collecting character autographs is a great tradition to start with your family. Try making a list of everyone’s favorite characters and then go on a character scavenger hunt to find them all. Or ask a Cast Member about the harder to find characters and see if you can’t get their elusive signature before you leave. Speaking of Cast Members, if one really went about and beyond during your stay, get their autograph too! What a great way to remember a magical moment.
Photographs: Of course photos are the easiest way to record our vacation memories, but try making it a little more special next time. I always take a picture in front of Cinderella Castle with a new set of Ears. You could also try taking the same family photo each time you go to the park – same poses, same place – and see how your family has grown and changed throughout the years.
Hidden Mickeys: We all know that the parks are chock full of Hidden Mickeys – make a tradition (or even a little competition) to see who can pick out the most each day. Winner gets a dole whip. Loser – well they still get a dole whip too.
Vinylmations: Another trading tradition that I take part in is Vinylmation trading. I don’t have many, and I generally only purchase ones that I really like and want to display. However, I keep a couple on hand during my trips to the parks for trading. For me, it’s less about finding the last piece of my collection, and more about seeing what I’ll get and interacting with the Cast Members.
Family Dinner: Maybe it’s because the holidays are on my mind, or maybe it’s because memories of eating at Ohana during my first trip to Disney World are still dear to me, but I think that picking one night during your vacation and having a sit down dinner, together as a family, is a great tradition to start. You could opt for a Character Dining experience, a Signature dining option, or even just your favorite Disney restaurant. I like to do this on one of the last nights of my trip. For me, it’s a great way to finish out the vacation and to talk about all the amazing experiences we had together.
What traditions do you enjoy at Disney? What would you like to try in the future? Share your memories and ideas in the comment box!
Monica is an Alumni of the Disney College Program. When she is not walking down the middle of Main Street USA you can find her wandering the World Showcase, or enjoying a Dole Whip while racing to her favorite attractions. When she is forced to endure life outside of Walt Disney World, you can find her in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she lives and works.
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